Intimacy with God

“It is possible for anyone to change the trend of his life, not by hearing or reading truth, but by making it an active part of his consciousness in daily experience, until it becomes a habit every moment of the day, instead of an occasional thought.” – Joel Goldsmith, Practicing the Presence, pg 26.

In my past three articles, I’ve talked about intimacy with self, others, and community. Today we are going to discuss intimacy with God/Higher Power/that which is greater than the ego, and I’m going to share a little of my own story with you.

Who or What is God to You?

As children, we are typically first introduced to a God through our parents and their religion. They introduce us to the God of their understanding and raise us within a structure of philosophy/religion that is based around that God or Gods.

Once we are in our adolescence, we seek a sense of self separate from our parents. Often, that means we begin to explore on our own and discover that we have our own ideas about religion and God.

Did you find that your thoughts about a “higher power” shifted as you grew older? Or have you stuck with the philosophy that you were raised with? My thoughts have definitely changed throughout the years.

How do you Experience God?

You may find that as you grow older, the way you experience your relationship with God continues to grow and change. Think about your experiences with God as a child compared to now. How have they differed?

One of my clearest experiences was when I was sitting on a dock and looking into the water. I was deep in a meditative state and I could hear someone call my name. The call was not a schizoid voice in my head nor the voice of another human – it had a different feel to it. It felt like a voice of something larger than life.

I still don’t know what it was, but looking back, it feels like a taste of a connection to God.

Now, if I look at my earlier experiences, I can recall thinking there is no God because bad things were happening. My parents were getting a divorce and I couldn’t understand how a just God could let that happen.

I decided to pray.

I could not change the situation in my family, but maybe somehow, we could all get help. I think we did, or at least I can say for myself I did.

I tried to keep my heart open to both my parents, and I turned to God and prayed. I prayed that they would each be well and that they would each find what they needed, and we would have peace. I could not always tell one or the other what I was doing with my heart as they were trying to have me take sides.

I know now that God was there for me and could hear me – and I believe that at a young age, I was doing a compassion exercise.

God Image

As time went on and I grew into a young adult, I was certain that God wasn’t there for me. I couldn’t feel God, and I didn’t have a connection like others around me were describing.

The people around me were guided by God and had experiences of Him speaking to them. They felt blessed. But not me – in my mind, God wasn’t there for me at all.

I believe this was the beginning of discovering my God Image – a projected belief of what God is and what God says, does and wants from me that has the same tones as what my relationship to my parents was like. I felt like the outsider, I felt I didn’t deserve the same connection, that I was different then everyone else.

Now, I can clearly see the difference between the God Image based on false beliefs and the experience of God based on a deep understanding.

The God of Your Understanding

After years of self-growth and therapy, I found my relationship to God in Al-anon.

I was staring at a tissue box while at an Al-anon meeting one night, thinking of Step 3: “To make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

I decided that the tissue box could be my God. In fact, God could be anything I understood or wanted Him to be.

This felt very liberating, and from then on, I was able to get closer to God. It may seem strange for you to think of, but for me it was an “in” to going beyond my God Image. I was free to think as I wished, and from there started to have many more opening experiences and feeling more accepted by God.

Take a moment to think about yourself and your understanding of God: Where did it come from, and what is it like now?

Joel Goldsmith mentions a metaphor in his book, Practicing Presence – he talks of a tumbler and what is the inside and what is the outside of the tumbler. Where does it stop and God start?

I think of this with my skin: Where do I start and stop and where does God start and stop? If I am just energy and made of molecules, where is God? Is there a separation?

Sometimes, the more we explore these questions, the more questions we come up with –and there is no answer. I think some of the healing and self-discovery comes in the curiosity of it all.

However we get closer in our journey to understanding God is what we need. Let’s explore what your inquiry looks like:

Inquiry Questions:

1. Write your autobiography on religion and your relationship to God.
2. What are you seeking?
3. Are you seeking to gain something from God or are you seeking a realization of God?
4. How do you define God?
5. What are your projections?
6. What part of you is still expecting a miracle from outside of yourself?
7. Where are you willing to surrender and where are you holding back from surrender?

Deepening Your Relationship to God

1. Read spiritual material.
2. Clear your mind to be open to the unexpected.
3. Assess your values and purpose.
4. Observe responses and reactions.
5. As experience shifts, share it and see how things expand.
6. Listen. Pause while talking, listen while thinking, pause and listen to others.
7. Set aside some time. Turn your phone to silent. You can read scripture or just explore the feeling of plugging into an energy mass.
8. The saying when two or more are gathered has a powerful force when we think of creating deeper connection to community. We started with intimacy with self and moved beyond one to two and beyond two to many.

Closure

I believe that God, Higher Power, Greater Something, is in every human and every other molecule of the universe; it is where we are all one and all united.

I hope that you have enjoyed this series of articles on intimacy and connectedness and that it has helped you to strengthen your relationships – with self, others, community, and God.